By Emma Butler, Head of Welfare Campaigns
Forever Hounds Trust’s head office is based in Oxford, and we were dismayed to hear that plans are afoot to bring greyhound racing back to the city and that the businessman behind the scheme has claimed that ‘greyhound racing is not cruel.‘
As a greyhound and lurcher rescue charity we refute claims made by Nik Budimir, the businessman hoping to bring greyhound racing back to Oxford, that greyhound racing is not a cruel sport.
We have been rescuing, rehabilitating and homing greyhounds for more than 20 years,. The claims made by Nik Budimir cannot be backed up by the greyhound racing industry’s own statistics and are certainly at complete odds with what we witness every day as a greyhound rescue charity.
Greyhounds regularly come into our care in terrible condition, with dreadful injuries caused either as a direct result of racing or due to neglect. Many more greyhounds are discarded by the racing industry than there are homes for and without charities such as Forever Hounds Trust and other dog rescues, these dogs would probably lose their young lives as soon as their last race is over.
Nik Budimir was reported in the Oxford Mail as saying: “Greyhound racing is the most transparent of sports which cares for its greyhounds both during their racing careers and after.”
However, this statement is at complete odds with Forever Hounds Trust’s experience of saving former racing greyhounds. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) recently released data showing that almost 1,000 greyhounds die at the hands of the racing industry annually, with thousands more injured. The neglect doesn’t end when they leave the GBGB racetrack either. Forever Hounds Trust has recently taken in a number of former GBGB greyhounds that have been raced on unregulated tracks, leaving them with limbs so badly injured they have had to be amputated. These dogs go on to live full and happy lives, but only because of the care and dedication given to them by our volunteers and the significant veterinary bills that are funded by our supporters. It is not because their lives are in any way valued by the greyhound industry once they can no longer win a race. To the racing industry, greyhounds are purely a commodity and I would suggest Nik Budimir’s attempt to convince the people of Oxford that racing greyhounds are well cared for and not at risk is based on his desire to use them as a money-making commodity.
For many years Forever Hounds Trust tried to work with the greyhound racing industry to improve welfare standards for these dogs. However, with no improvements made and dogs still being severely injured and dying on racetracks around the UK, the charity is now calling for a complete phasing out of greyhound racing on welfare terms.
Forever Hounds Trust is based in Oxford and will of course campaign strongly against any attempt to bring greyhound racing back to the area. While we support plans to reopen or redevelop the site for other recreational uses for the local community, we do not condone the exploitation of greyhounds and it would be a very big backward step to reintroduce greyhound racing to Oxford.